Spectrum Policy and the Race to Net Zero

Spectrum policy has an important role to play in the race to net zero. A new report from GSMA Intelligence shows how efficient spectrum use reduces carbon emissions while simultaneously generating economic benefits for society.

The potential impact is two-fold. Firstly, policies can help reduce carbon emissions from the mobile ecosystem. Secondly, they can advance mobile connectivity, which will have an enabling effect on emission-saving use cases for other sectors. This enabling effect of mobile has vast implications – video calling to reduce emissions from physical travel, connected electrical grids that improve efficiency in the energy sector, as well as smart transport and cities.

The race to net zero in the mobile sector can have several components to improve or be analysed at different levels. Still, in terms of spectrum policy, there are four specific aspects to consider with crucial impact.

What should policymakers and regulators do?

Regulators have already started to explore the potential role of spectrum policy in tackling climate change. As this area expands, regulators can consider incorporating assessments of climate change into existing spectrum policy frameworks and roadmaps on top of economic impact assessments.

Non-monetary impacts, such as carbon emissions, should be considered because they determine the quality of life and productivity globally. More directly, effective spectrum policy contributes to achieving national and international climate action goals.

The consideration of climate aspects creates a win-win scenario. Precisely the same policies that promote efficient, affordable networks that help lower the usage gap and the digital divide are those that reduce carbon emissions. Some have already recognised this. The European Commission, for example, has set specific objectives to use spectrum policy to contribute to their climate action goals.

Efficient spectrum policy can support the race to net zero – reducing the carbon emissions of the mobile sector and lowering the amount of carbon embodied in networks. These policies also support mobile productivity and can help build a brighter, sustainable future.